The Gifted

What happens when an ordinary girl is cast into a world of magic and dangerous people all because of one fateful night? Ellie knows nothing of the world of The Gifted, that is, until she becomes one by pure chance. To no fault of her own, she's thrown into a world that mere moments ago she would have considered impossible to even exist, and is forced to try and find her legs in this new world, will the help of a couple of people - friends might be stretching it, though. As if this wasn't enough, there seems like there are darker things going on outside of the normal Gifted life, and it looks like Ellie might just get caught up in it...

Note: Wrote this two years ago, but I just joined here and I'm like, eh, I need to post something, right? I feel like its corny and could do with a lot of improvement, but I just want to get something out here, I suppose. Enjoy! If this gets enough love, I might just finish it :0 Have a wonderful day! <3


4. Let It Go!

I’d love to say that after a while, things got better.
I hate to say, that even after a while, things were only getting worse.
“Well, it seems as if we have all finally found our places. With that, I’ll kindly ask the Seniors to take their Juniors to the 15s-21s Library and introduce them to the subjects they can choose from. Remember, no specialisations will be chosen until their own Senior years – they will be choosing one main subject focus, which will briefly cover all the specialisations that they will be able to learn in their Senior years, should they like that sort of subject. With that in mind, off you all go!” Professor Oliver said, shooing everyone with a wave of his hands. Quickly, teams got up from their seats and slowly filed out of the 15s/21s Dining Room. Jason, however, completely disregarded his team and stood up, frowning, then left the building – alone.
“Well, that’s great, huh?” James moaned in annoyance, standing up and waiting with the rest of the remaining team members.
“It’s for the best,” Alex said to him, thin-lipped as he watched Jason leave them all behind. With that, Scott sighed, and nodded.
“He’s right. Let’s just wait until most of the crowd clears out, and then Alex and I will help you with you subject stuff,” Scott said. I was glad to see that he had finally stopped looking so stressful now that Jason was gone, and, if anything, was looking a little excited.
“So… does anyone have any idea as to where Grumpy Butt headed off to?” James asked casually, feigning indifference.
“Don’t know,” Scott admitted.
“Don’t care,” Alex added. Sighing, I nodded.
“Okay, then. Fair enough, it’s just us. I don’t suppose you could explain some basic things while we wait for everyone to leave?” I asked the two Seniors, watching the sluggish line of teams gradually lessen over time. Scott shrugged and looked to Alex, who sighed and rubbed his temple.
“There will be different branches of subjects-” Alex started.
“Like what?” James asked, suddenly interested.
“-Like, as I was going to say-” Alex continued, his tone irritated.
“Gee. I was just asking…” murmured James under his breath so that Alex could not hear, though by the agitated look on Alex’s face, he still had.
“-Like, say, combat or healing. Those are just two of the main branches. In those subjects, you will learn the basics of each specialisation within them, so for example in combat, you’d learn hand-to-hand, marksmanship, swordsmanship, and so on. You try a little bit of everything, so that when you hit your Senior years, you know what four specializations you can choose. For example, I, myself, studied both the main Herbology and Healing branches, and found that I was good at Herbal Remedies, Healing Basic Wounds, Healing Stab Wounds and Healing Burn Wounds. So, as you might have guessed, considering these branches were what I was best at, they are now my Senior electives. Understood?” Alex asked us, looking at each of us Juniors in turn.
“Got it. And yet how did you study two different main branches?” Duke enquired, peering now and then at the receding line of teams.
“Well, that’s easy enough. You have six Junior years, right? With each year, you pick a different main branch to try. There are 11 in all, so you’ll want to only choose the ones you’re sure you’ll be interested in,” Scott supplied, giving us a thumbs up and a toothy grin. After a pause, he added, “I think we can head out now. Let’s get going!” he said brightly as he began to head off, and although he was indeed six years older than me, I couldn’t help but getting a vibe of young innocence from him.
“Somebody’s too pure for this world,” James remarked, as if reading my mind.
“Leave him be, James,” Duke said, laughing a little, “Now come on. We’d better join him, or he’ll be upset,” he said, trailing behind Alex, who had already begun to make his exit.
“After you, m’lady,” James winked at me, and offered me the next place in the line with a wave of his hand. With a roll of my eyes, I gently slapped his hand away, but took the place anyways. Once outside, I was yet again stumped with just how big the Academy was. It took us five minutes to walk to the Main Library, which was divided into sections for each age pair, and together, minus one of our team members, we headed into the 15s/21s section, which, in itself, could be an entire building on its own. “Gee, just how many books are in here?” James marvelled, gaping at the rows upon rows of leather-bound books within neatly ordered bookcases.
“In the entire library? As of last year, there were 465,135,678 different books,” Alex said, leading us over to some of the subject selection booths that had been put up around various places in the library.
“You serious?” James exclaimed, looking wide-eyed at Alex, who in his turn sighed, a painful expression on his face.
“No,” he said, as if he was speaking to a dumb animal.
“Ah. Right, gotcha,” James said, looking a little abashed. Completely ignoring the two, Scott turned to face Duke and me, and then gestured over to one of the subject booths, smiling broadly.
“That one’s the Exploration Branch – by far my favourite. You guys wanna check that one out first?” Scott asked, beaming at us. How exactly could one say no? He was like a puppy getting excited after their owner returned home from work. I’d feel terrible if I denied him this opportunity, that’s for sure.
“Yeah, why not?” I said, smiling too now, as I quickly stepped into stride beside Scott, who led us there, chatting excitedly the whole way, the rest of the team having no choice but to follow – although they weren’t really complaining either, considering it wasn’t that much of a big deal. There would be time for the other booths later.
“This one’s all about learning how to safely traverse the environment you find yourself in. Really cool, if you ask me,” Scott would say, pointing out things of interest. It did actually look quite interesting, and I found myself taking one of the information sheets the tall, blonde female staff member manning the booth offered to me.
“Scott’s got you interested, has he? Excellent student, he is. If you ever need help regarding the Exploration Branch, he’ll be sure to point you in the right direction,” the lady said proudly, smiling warmly at Scott, who beamed back at her. Perhaps it was just because the teacher looked friendly enough, but at that moment James decided he’d take an information sheet too, and considering he did, Duke quickly followed suit, earning a small laugh from the staff member. “Remember, only choose the subjects that will help yourself, okay? No good in learning something that your friend wants to do but you don’t want to,” he advised, and Duke nodded and smiled at her a little awkwardly, though he did not put the sheet back.
“Thanks for that, Professor Gerdon,” Scott smiled, and with a little wave of the hand, lead us onto the next subject booth, that of The Forge Branch.
“This is where you’ll learn to make your own gear and equipment, should you study it,” Alex said, pointing at some of examples laid out on the table – finely crafted swords and shields, armour, so on. Duke was clearly fascinated, I could see it by the spark of interest in those hazel eyes of his, but he did not pick up a sheet, instead, looked to see if James was going to. Huffing in annoyance, I squeezed through the kids gaping at the crafts in the booth, grabbed one of the information sheets, and handed it to Duke, who smiled appreciatively.
“Umm, thanks,” he said, to which I shrugged as if it were not a big deal. Besides, I’d probably borrow the sheet off of him to read it later, too – I think The Forge Branch sounded quite interesting.
“Right, so, the next booth-” Alex began, only to be interrupted mid-sentence again by James.
“Wait, it pretty much says everything we need to know on the sheets. Why do you guys have to waste your time telling us all this?” he asked, pointing to the in-depth descriptions, which, I noticed, Alex had seemed to basically memorise off by heart. Scott laughed, and shrugged.
“To give opinions to you guys? For bonding time? Who knows,” he said, watching as I darted off to all the subject booths in turn and grabbed an information sheet from each of them, silently and quickly scanning over the basic descriptions of each subject we hadn’t already looked at.
Combat – learning how to fight and defend yourself, with weapons and/or your Gift
Deceiving – learning how to trick the easily fooled and to act like certain people, should you find yourself in the undercover pathway
Leadership – for those who plan on leading a team of Renowned to battle, from afar or on the front lines
Healing – learning how to heal injuries that may occur on the battlefield, if your teammates ever get hurt
Herbology – learning what each unique Gifted plant (that peaked my interest, for I had no idea plants could be Gifted too) can do – whether it’s dangerous, harmful, edible, etc
Wildlife – learning of all the Gifted wildlife and what they are capable of doing, whether they are harmful or could possibly be your ally, should you know how to tame and train them
History – learning of The Gifted’s past, the ups and downs, so that we can improve our future and learn from our mistakes, and also get a better insight into how battles worked and whether their tactics used in them were successful or not
Object Gifting – (this also peaked my interest) learning how to use your Gift and transfer some of it into a chosen object, and based on what the object is, the Gift instilled in it may become more powerful or have other, new attributes
And finally…
“Cooking?” I exclaim, reading off from the last of the information sheets, pure surprise crossing my features.
“It’s not as bad as you think. I personally tried it out, and it’s nothing like what the Oblivious think cooking is. We Gifted enhance it, so that the meals may enhance our abilities, so it is useful in the end – though it’s still not my first choice, I will admit,” Alex said, frowning at me as if this was common knowledge. Feeling dumb already, I decided I’d ask about what the Oblivious were later, and ask someone not so judgemental…
“Right. Well. Not my first choice either, I’d say,” I agreed strongly.
“So we’ve read about all the subjects? Do you guys know what you’ll be doing?” Scott asked, looking quite interested as he waited for the boys to finish reading over the sheets I had just handed to James.
“I think I’ll go with the History Branch, to be honest,” James said, reading over that particular information sheet once more. “Yeah, I think so,” he decided.
“I was thinking of going for that too,” Duke said softly, nodding. At that, James looked up at his brother and quickly slapped him with the sheets of paper.
“Yeah, nah, you’re doing The Forge branch. You think I didn’t see the way you went googly eyed back at that stall? As if,” James teased, tossing him the information sheet for that branch, Duke grinning sheepishly as he accepted it.
“I think I’d like to try The Forge branch as well, if that’s okay? I really like the idea of being able to make my own stuff,” I said, nodding as I read the description for it once more over Duke’s shoulder.
“Usually, teams all try and study different subjects so they have a wide variation of skills, but if you think you’ll do really, really well at it, then I suppose you may,” Alex said, as if were his decision and not exactly mine.
“So it’s settled?” I asked, beaming at my team excitedly.
“No. It is not,” said a gruff voice, and when we all turned to face the speaker, low and behold, there stood Jason Shaed, looking as arrogant as ever with his arms crossed over his chest, his eyes glaring.
“Oh!” Duke said in surprise, then before Jason could say anything about being scared easily or whatever, he added, “Nice of you to, err, join us, Jason…”
“Hmph,” was the only reply from the older male.
“And here stands the Grumpy Butt in his natural habitat…” James sighed, staring Jason down, which honestly did not look like a good idea at the time considering Jason looked as if he were about to strangle someone, and not in a pleasant way, either. Deciding to butt in before things got out of hand, I tried to cool things down a little.
“So, Jason,” I began, making up things to say as I went, “Have a nice walk?”
No answer.
“Well, that’s too bad…” I murmured, then tried once more, “So, uh, why exactly do you think I should not do The Forge branch?” I asked him patiently, politely, cautiously.
“The Forge is a men-dominated branch. They don’t welcome girls there, and you’ll only be quickly discouraged,” he told me matter-of-factly, and I was about to tell him that it was really not that easy to discourage me when he added, “And you’ll consequently pull the rest of us down with you.”
“Hey, Jason, lay off. I’m sure she’ll be fine, okay?” Scott said, looking sympathetically in my direction.
“Maybe if both Ellie and Duke focus on learning about different specializations, it’ll be alright,” Alex suggested, and it appeared as if everyone, except Jason of course, agreed with him.
“Sure, okay. So do you know what you think you’ll specialize in, Ellie?” Duke asked me, smiling in a friendly, encouraging manner, “I’ll take up whatever you don’t. Honestly, I’m fine with anything,” he grinned.
“I don’t see the point of using short-ranged weapons, so-”
A cough.
A splutter.
I said something dumb, didn’t I? I thought. Well, there goes my chances… I sighed, biting my lip, knowing that Jason would never allow me to go into The Forge branch now. With this in mind, I tried to play it cool and as if I was reconsidering his words, in a hope to get him off my back and possibly earn his favour.
“But Jason, what were you thinking I should choose, if not The Forge branch?” I asked him, ignoring the look Alex was giving me, as if I was the dumbest, most uneducated thing ever.
“Thought you wanted to do The Forge, Ellie? Don’t give up on you want that easy,” Scott said, laughing, then patting my shoulder gently, if not a little awkwardly, however. “If she prefers long range weapons to short range weapons, that’s her choice!” he said brightly, smiling warmly in my direction. I didn’t see how this was going to help but, what on Earth, it did. Alex seemed to relax a little bit, and he finally nodded.
“Yes. Sorry, I thought that you meant…” he trailed off, looking a little embarrassed himself now, “…Nevermind…”
“I say Ellie should do the Cooking Branch,” Jason announced suddenly, meeting my eyes coolly.
Now, lots of things went through my mind right then – I was instantly reminded of my father whenever he insisted that I do the basic housework and that he would tend to the garden, even if I preferred garden work to house work, being old-fashioned and whatnot he thought that that was simply how things worked, and I couldn’t help but grit my teeth in frustration at the memory.
I am just as capable as any of the other first years, boy or girl, and if I am not, I will make it so! I thought to myself, but what came out of my mouth was:
Everyone was taken aback, even people who had no idea what the conversation was about. They looked at me, surprised that such a loud voice had come from someone so small (I’m not that small, though) and backed away a little from me, giving me those weird looks again.
“Oh, she is so a Pelitri,” said the boy from earlier who had made the sharing of blood comment, and a few people around him laughed.
I’d have to catch his name sometime later.
Jason was unfazed, however, and simply raised a disinterested eyebrow. “You should do the Cooking Branch,” he repeated, his voice even and unchallenged.
“Yeah, no,” I told him, feeling my insides begin to turn in anger. Jason sighed, then walked up to me slowly, never dropping his gaze from my own, and I, myself, continued to meet his eyes, as cruel and cold looking as they were, my faze never faltering either.
“Oh god,” James whimpered, tugging at Duke’s shirtsleeve, pulling him a little further away from the two of us.
“Jason, leave her be,” Scott said, his voice low and more commanding than I thought possible from someone like him. Jason then turned his gaze to him, his eyes glittering dangerously. Staff began to leave their stalls, and I saw that they were possibly preparing for a fight, and my stomach churned.
I would not be the cause of this.
“Look, fine, okay? I won’t do The Forge, but I’m not doing Cooking either, okay? I think that’s a fair compromise,” I gave in, defeat lacing my words.
“Kid, you’re not doing anything other than Cooking. A stupid girl like you, thinking she’s all high and mighty – you’d tear us all down elsewhere,” Jason hissed at me, and it took all my restraint not to punch him in the face.
“Back off, Jason. Her compromise is perfectly fair. Take it, or go home - for goodness sake,” Alex groaned, his patience wearing thin now as well.
“I also think her talents would be wasted there, Jason…” Duke said meekly, and although he looked like he was about to wet himself, he did not stop even when Jason turned to face him, “She’s really good at reading people and has a loud voice. I read that people in The Deceiving Branch require skills like that,” he said, looking over to me as if to ask is that okay?
Ever so slightly, I nodded. Anything other than The Cooking Branch, I thought.
“I don’t remember saying it was up for debate,” Jason snarled, through his features remained impassive and superior.
“Yeah, well, stuff you. Cooking looks dumb – you want a good team? Let her try something useful, then, far out,” James countered, clenching his fists. I wanted to tell them to back off, all of them, and leave everything as it is, but unfortunately this seemed quite unavoidable.
“And yet I recall one of the smartest students in the entire Academy saying it would be useful?” Jason challenged, his gaze moving to settle on Alex, who was remaining his composure but looked like he’d blow up at any minute at the same time.
“I do recall that, too, Jason. What I do not recall, however, was us being told to force choices upon the Juniors instead of simply guiding them,” he countered, voice thin and clipped, his own light blue eyes beginning to spark with anger and impatience. For a brief moment, both Alex and Jason remained in a staring contest, until James broke the silence from over by The Cooking Branch booth, and no, I had not seen him move there while everyone was too busy arguing.
“Oh, come on. Look, no seriously, look at this. Sure, it’s useful, but it’s not that useful. You’re basically wasting a team member!” James insisted, much to the staff member who was manning the booth’s horror. When he made no further movement, we began to realise he actually wanted us to look, and slowly, ever so slowly, we headed over to him, Jason being the last in tow, everyone left within the room watching us as we went. “I mean, does this really look all that good to you?” James asked, ignoring the furious looks from the staff member as he went to poke one of the deserts.
Jason, realising what James was about to do, leapt forward so quickly and swiftly that I think everyone was surprised, but even so, he was not quick enough. “DON’T TOUCH IT!” he shouted in vain.
Sadly, it was too late.
The cake, a small cheesecake by the looks of it, exploded in a puff of snowflakes, instantly covering myself and the rest of my team who were standing before it, and chilling us to the bone.
“That,” said the staff member at the booth, who was completely unaffected by the explosion, beamed proudly at her creation, brushing a stray strand of curly brown hair out of her middle-aged face, “Was a delicacy of the Reaction Speciality. Should you be interested in learning how to do this, perhaps to make prank on any unsuspecting fools-” she glared at James, “-then please, feel free to make The Cooking Branch your first elective!” she said brightly, and instantly a heap of students swarmed over to her booth, and she had trouble handing out all the information sheets in time, “It’s easy, too, so if you’re afraid of not being good at anything, this is the subject for you!” she finished, swaying over even more students, who took one look at myself and my team, laughed, nodded, and then took an information sheet. “As for you six,” she said, referring to my group, “I’m afraid, due to your ruckus and irresponsible behaviour, that you will start the term on a negative score as a consequence. Now, I suggest you Seniors skip the tour of the Academy and make sure your Juniors have a nice warm bath, because although not fatal, the delicacy one of your team members so foolishly exploded does give quite the chill to whoever should be caught in its radius, and it’d be awful for you all to start the term off with a head-cold…” she trailed off, sounding sympathetic but clearly not really meaning it, “Go on. Get yourselves cleaned up! Now, please, before Christmas would be wonderful-” she said, clapping her hands to move us along. As we exited the Library, our heads hung, all except for Jason – who, even though he was covered in snow, still managed to look proud and frightening, we noticed everyone laughing in our direction. Sure, not everyone, but the huge, vast majority was – that’s for sure. As Alex, his brow furrowed in fury, lead us to our dorms, which were on the 16th floor of the tall Dorm Building for 15s/21s, Seniors and Juniors of other age pairs noticed our peculiar group as well, and also laughed and pointed, shaking their heads at us across from their windows in the other Dorm Buildings.
“Loving this place,” James sighed sarcastically as he closed the door behind us to our dorms, locking it, and then flumped onto one of the available leather couches almost immediately, burying his snow-covered face into the cushions.
“Cry me a river,” Duke agreed, joining his brother on the couch, trying to dust off what snow he could from his brother’s short sandy brown hair.
“Only a river?” James exclaimed in fake surprise, his voice muffled by the couch. Alex, sighing in despair, pointed over to where the bathroom was.
“One of you guys should run a hot bath, else you’re only fall ill from the cold,” he said, and I had to admit – I was feeling rather cold now that the snow had soaked into my clothes, and a nice warm bath did sound very promising.
“Wait till Jason’s out,” Scott said, walking over to the couch opposite the Peltiri Brothers and sitting down, where he began to run his fingers through his hair once again.
“I thought it was specified that the Juniors should wash up first!” Alex huffed in annoyance, then stormed off into the room labelled with his name, slamming the door shut closed behind him with a loud BANG. So much for his composure, I thought to myself grimly. Trying to make light of the situation, I quietly sat down beside Scott, trying not to shiver too visibly.
“Well, at least I’ve finally seen snow for the first time,” I laughed weakly, hugging myself in an effort to keep warm, my teeth chattering.
“Yeah. You’re welcome,” James moaned in annoyance, mostly at himself, still face-first in the cushions, his brother patting him on the back reassuringly. “And now, we miss out on the tour. It’ll be great fun repeatedly getting lost tomorrow while we try to find our classes when our training here actually starts – if we’re still alive by then, that is.”
“I’ll show you where all your classes are,” Scott decided, though none too happily at that; he was now fiddling with that blue bracelet of his on his wrist.
“Scott… You’ll be late for your own classes, then…” I said, looking over at him worriedly.
“Yeah, well… Better being late as a Senior than a Junior. Your first day at the Academy sucked, can’t have your first day of training sucking as well…” he said, forcing a smile in my direction. “I’m sure the teachers will understand.”
“If you’re sure…” I said, giving in. I was feeling hopelessly sorry for my entire team, save for perhaps Jason. The rest, they had all been trying to help me back when Jason was trying to force me into something I didn’t want to do, and James, poor James – I doubt he had any way of knowing what that cake was made to do. He was probably blaming himself for that, and goodness, that must feel horrible… “I’m… I’m sure tomorrow will be better!” I said, sitting upright to face them all, my eyes filled to the brim with determination. Scott smiled, nodding.
“I hope s-”
“In your dreams,” huffed Jason, who had just emerged from the bathroom, dressed once again all in black – I was beginning to doubt he wore any other colour – and he headed to his room, where he, too, locked himself in without another word. Shaking his head sadly, Scott then patted my shoulder and gestured to the bathroom.
“Your lips are blue, Ellie. Go and warm up, okay? I’ll handle things out here,” he said kindly, and unable to say no to being able to warm up, I weakly nodded, headed into my room, grabbed whatever clothes I could find, and then headed into the bathroom, where I locked the door and prepared a nice, warm bath for myself.
“You were right, Scott… I hate him already,” James had sobbed softly just before I finished closing the bathroom door.

Looking at the clock on my bedside table, I sighed as I watched both the big and small hand land on the twelve. Twelve a.m. in the morning, and still, I had not gotten any sleep. After everyone had cleaned up, we’d pretty much locked ourselves in each of our rooms for the rest of the day, and yet I was still wide awake, and, realising that I would not fall asleep any time soon, got up out of my bed that had been transferred from my old home to my dorm here, and sat down on one of the couches in the main room, holding my head in my hands while I went over the day in my head, begging myself not to be as upset about it as I was.
“Hectic day, huh?” said a soft voice from the small kitchen, and after being initially alarmed, I looked up and could vaguely make out the outline Scott leaning against one of the benches in the darkness – I could tell it was him, because he was the shortest out of us in the entire team, even out of us Juniors, but I dared not to speak about it, as if was something that I’d discovered over the years, it was that people who are short generally hate being reminded of it.
“Yeah,” I breathed, looking back down to my hands on my knees in front of me, trying to sound happier than I felt, although it took quite the effort.
Today had really, really sucked.
With a soft sigh, I heard Scott walk over to sit beside me, and although it was rather dark, the only light being the moonlight from the few windows, he looked just as miserable as I felt. We sat in silence for a while – him sipping the coffee he had made for himself, and me just thinking over all the things that had gone wrong in a single day.
“I couldn’t sleep either,” he admitted after a while, leaning back into the couch, his eyes on me.
“Yeah, well, I don’t suppose that’s coffee’s helping, mate,” I laughed softly, and so did he.
“True. Doubt I’d get any sleep even without it, though,” he sighed again, spinning the coffee mug around in his hands. “I’m… I’m sorry about messing everything up for you… It’s my fault Jason’s here,” he murmured under his breath, and though I could not see his expression, I realised it must’ve been pretty grim.
“Do you blame James for what happened at the subject booths?” I asked him, temporarily changing the topic.
“No! I mean, no, heck no, of course not. The poor kid had no idea, did he?” he chuckled sympathetically, probably remembering the look of pure horror upon James’s face just after the snowflake explosion.
“Then why blame yourself for something you had no clue about, if you don’t blame him for what he did when he didn’t know about his mistake either?” I challenged him, my eyes scanning over him for a reaction.
“Because… because I should’ve seen it coming,” he confessed, then went on to explain what he meant. “Most of the time, Junior teams are the same in Senior teams, unless due to new relationships built or whatever that they’d be better in a new team, but Jason… His entire team isn’t even at the Academy anymore. Nobody else can put up with him other than me, and I’m not saying that I can put up with it all of the time, either. It’s just… even if we’re not that close, I am still the closest to him in the Academy, which is why I should’ve thought about it before.”
“There’s not much you can do about it, Scott. It’s not like you can kick him out of the place or ask for him not to be in your team, is it?” I countered.
“I… suppose you’re right,” he gave in, nodding. “Still, I can’t help but feel that…”
“Well, quit feeling that way. You’re on my team, and my team’s going to be the best in the entire Academy!” I grinned, and the look he gave me made me laugh a little. “I’m only joking, that’s quite unlikely, but seriously – I don’t want any team member of mine feeling like crap all the time. Cheer up, okay?” I told him, smiling, and then stopped as I realised he probably couldn’t even see me doing so.
“You could say the same for yourself, Ellie. Have you seen that mopey expression of yours lately?” he chuckled, and I had to admit, he had a point.
“We’ll both work on it – deal?” I asked, offering my hand so that he could shake it. I couldn’t see it, but it felt as if Scott was grinning at me now.
“Deal,” he said cheerfully, shaking my hand. We sat there in a comfortable silence until he drained the last of his coffee, and I decided I’d see if I can ask him some of my new questions that had formed throughout the day.
“Hey, Scott – do you mind if I ask you about some stuff?” I began hesitantly, looking over to him to see if it was alright.
“Yeah, sure. Fire away,” he grinned, turning to face me directly now. I took a deep breath, then asked one of my most recent ones.
“So, umm… Jason’s team – they all left the school. Did they just want a change or something?” I asked him, wondering if it was something I should be talking about. Scott, however, didn’t seemed to mind that much, though he was hesitant with his answers.
“No, uh… they’re umm…” he trailed off, probably wondering how to phrase it.
“Did they not get enough points at the end of the last term?” I asked, trying to fill in the blanks.
“No, they got enough. They were exceptional in the combat field, so it was quite easy for them, plus, if that were the case, Jason wouldn’t be here either, but…” he paused, then decided to give me a straight forward answer. “Over the holidays, though, they, umm, did some pretty stupid stuff. Dangerous stuff,” he said, looking to see my reaction, before he finished, “and yeah, they, umm, ended up in jail…” he laughed nervously.
“Oh… I see,” I said softly, soaking the information in. “But… Jason didn’t?”
“Well, he was the only one on his team who didn’t join in on the act, so yeah, he’s still here,” Scott said, matter-of-factly.
“So he could be a worse guy?” I asked tentatively, wondering what Scott’s actual opinion of Jason was.
“Yeah. He could do plenty worse, I’ll tell you that,” he laughed again, rather nervously at that, then seemed to think for a while before he added, “Me and Jason, we go way back. We met when we were both only five years old,” he said, shaking his head as if remembering the moment. “Apparently I’d taken his favourite seat,” he laughed.
“Did you?” I laughed with him, finding that I was actually quite intrigued as to the two’s history together.
“Assuming that that’s why he decided to hit me with a fallen tree branch, yes, I think I had,” he laughed again, still shaking his head fondly. “Believe it or not, we used to be really, really good friends,” he sighed, probably thinking of some old times I would probably never hear of – but something that clearly meant a lot to Scott, and I felt a pang of sadness when I heard the pride he had in his voice when he talked about their old friendship.
“If I may ask… What changed?” I asked, after a brief silence followed.
“He started heading down a path that I didn’t want to follow,” Scott sighed, playing with his bracelet again as he explained, “started doing more dangerous things, things that could get him in trouble. Got colder and crueller… it’s like he lost any feeling he had within him.”
“Do you know what caused it?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“No. That’s what sucks. Maybe it’s just the way he wanted to go, I don’t know, but I miss the days we shared together as friends,” he told me, then added as an afterthought, “but I’ll be honest with you, too. He wasn’t all that nice at the beginning, either. Right from the day I met him, he was only a little less moody than he is nowadays.”
“And yet you still became his friend at the time?” I asked, amazed.
“He… he had no one…” Scott said, a little sadness now filling his words. “Neither… neither did I. We were both orphans,” he said, shrugging.
“I- I’m so, so sorry, I had no idea…” I began, stumbling over my words, feeling like a total moron for asking so much from him. The look he gave me surprised me, however – it was one of realisation, and not sadness or annoyance, like I had expected.
“You aren’t Elmeal Borne, are you?” he asked, sounding a little surprised. “When you said earlier today, that you don’t see the point in short-range weapons, you actually, genuinely meant that you think long-range weapons are better, and not just out of preference, don’t you?”
“I… well… I just don’t see why you’d want to get up close and personal when you could keep your distance, and, should you have to kill someone, do it in a much more humane way…” I replied, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, which to me, it was.
“How long ago did you become an Elmeal Gifted?” he asked. He was no longer asking if I was one or not, because somehow he now knew. The terms Elmeal Borne and Elmeal Gifted ran through my mind, and I realised just how big a difference it must be to be born with an Elmeal and a Gift than to be gifted one.
“I, uh… Five days ago. Wait, no, six now…” I said, a little shameful. There was so much I clearly did not know.
“My god, you’d be the newest Gifted within the Academy!” Scott exclaimed, placing down his coffee mug which he had placed on his lap only a minute ago onto the ebony coloured coffee table in front of us. “No wonder! Goodness, you must be so confused…” he laughed, shaking his head in sympathy. “I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions,” he told me, smiling.
“Really?” I asked, and when he nodded, I decided that I would, “Thanks, Scott... So, um, kay… why do you guys use short-range weapons over long-range ones, then?” I asked, a little hesitant.
“Because projectiles are the easiest sort of attack to defend against, should you have a Gift – once trained, your Gift will even deflect any projectiles coming your way without even thinking about it. It’s common knowledge. That’s why you’ve got to be in close quarters instead, so they have less of a chance to defend themselves,” he explained patiently, seemingly happy to provide me with the answers I needed.
“But then you still do use long-range weapons even when they’re ineffective?” I ask, confused.
“Yeah. It’s just that you have to use them very close, giving the Gifted you’re fighting less of a chance to defend against a projectile. Should your aim be true and you’re close enough, they’ll be unable to ward it off. But the point of having long-range weapons is so that you can stay far away – being forced in close quarters with them, many people would rather prefer short-range weapons, considering if they get overwhelmed, you can’t really ward people off by hitting them on the head with a gun. I mean, you could, but… let’s just say something sharp would make it much, much easier,” he said.
“Fair enough,” I nodded, thinking for anything else I wanted to ask him, then landing upon something. “Why did you suddenly change to this topic, again? I mean, we were just talking about you and Jason, wait no, I mean if you didn’t want to talk about it, that’s fine!” I spluttered as I realised why he probably had, worrying that I had offended him due to my lack of thinking ahead.
“Huh? Oh, no, that’s not it. Relax. It was just your reaction to hearing Jason and I were orphans and what not. You just seemed so shocked. For most Obli- I mean, for most people who come from the society you’re used to, that would be the adequate reaction. Here, however, it’s just… more common, I’m afraid. We don’t apologise for it, because it’s simply something that you’re expected to be able to put up with these days.”
“What?!” I screeched, shocked. “Don’t you hate that? Don’t you receive any help at all? I mean, heck, are you just told to suck it up and move on?” I exclaimed, thinking the system ridiculous.
“Pretty much… It’s sort of seen as a good thing, too, because apparently orphans are usually great fighters against The Judgement,” he sighed, biting his lip.
“That’s insane! What does being an orphan have to do with being a good soldier?” I cried out in horror.
“Because, 99% of the time, it was The Judgement who made us orphans in the first place, thus giving us a strong reason to want to fight,” Scott replied, his tone and expression both the most grim I had seen them yet. I paused, not knowing what to do – should I comfort him, or just…
“That’s not fair…” was what I ended up crying out, and I realised I was finding it difficult to hold back tears, “That’s just… cruel… The Judgement… I can see now why you’d want to fight them, but surely, surely, The Renowned or whatever could be more sympathetic towards those who have lost their family to them?”
“Life’s not fair, Ellie, it rarely is. The Renowned have their hands full – The Judgement Days, I mean, the war we’ve been fighting with The Judgement for ages now, has yet to be ended, and still, after so many years of fighting, there is no finish in sight. They’ve no time for sympathising with so many of us.”
“I’m… I’m so sorry…” I sniffed, shaking my head furiously and rubbing at my eyes.
“Quit being sorry, alright?” he laughed lightly, softly, “It’s… it’s just the way things are. Should you react to other people’s stories like this, they’ll immediately identify you as an Oblivious Bor-… Borne… Sorry, that’s just what we call them…” he said, shrugging.
“We- I mean, they – they aren’t oblivious, though, they just don’t know,” I insisted, a little annoyed at the name The Gifted had given to the group of people I was only just recently a part of. “Wouldn’t it be more fitting to call them something like, I don’t know, The Unaware or something? And what’s so wrong with being an umm, what do you call it…? When you’re given a Gift instead?”
“An Elmeal Gifted? They’re disregarded and not thought of as real Gifted, and honestly, it’d just be far easier for you if you pretended you’ve been Elmeal Borne this whole time. You can talk with me about this stuff, though, if you need to, because I think it’s a load of crap – just like what I think of the name we give to people who aren’t of The Gifted. It’s stupid,” he insisted, shaking his head crossly. “But that’s beside the point. If you do need help, I’ll happily offer what I can,” he told me, smiling, then after a small pause, asked “Do you have any more questions, Ellie? Because if you don’t, I really suggest you should at least try to get some sleep – first days are always overwhelming, and being tired won’t help you at all,” he suggested, patting my knee.
“Yeah, I think that’s all for now…” I said, standing up and turning to face him once more. “Thanks for the help, Scott. It means a lot,” I said, walking to my room and gently opening the door.
“No problem. Goodnight, Ellie,” he said pleasantly.
“Night, Scott. Remember our deal,” I said, smiling, as I closed the door, and slipped into bed once more. Surprisingly, I was so very exhausted now that sleep came to me quite quickly, though at least some of my questions had been cleared up now, all thanks to Scott, which had probably also helped my jumpy mind to calm down and allow me some shut-eye as well.
Tomorrow will be better, I thought to myself before I drifted off for good.

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